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Bill Aims at Cities’ Anti-Circumcision Laws

L.A. congressman says it is a state or federal issue; has Muslim co-sponsor

Marc Tracy
June 15, 2011
A bris.(GreatestPyr/Flickr)
A bris.(GreatestPyr/Flickr)

Rep. Brad Sherman, a Jewish Democrat from Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley (that would be “the Valley”), made a narrow case for his proposal to bar cities from banning the practice. Focusing on the question of jurisdiction rather than on broader themes like pluralism and religious freedom, he argued, “Religious freedom is a federal issue, and medical practice is a state issue, maybe a federal issue as well. Neither of them is in the proper realm of cities.” He also noted that one of his bill’s co-sponsors would be Rep. Keith Ellison, Democrat from Minnesota and the first Muslim elected to Congress.

While Sherman is reportedly not coordinating his efforts with outside groups, Jewish and Muslim organizations have been among the most vocal opponents of this year’s San Francisco ballot initiative to ban the circumcision of minors. A push for a similar initiative in Santa Monica, California, near Sherman’s district, lost steam following the controversy that ensued after the San Francisco initiative officially qualified and amid charges that some “intactivists” traffic in anti-Semitism.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.